Welcome to TravelDew

Gabe Millar

It is a pleasure to introduce you to TravelDew, a community for leaders in experiential travel.  My name is Gabe Millar and I am eager to hear your stories and learn about how you bring experiences to life.

Experiential travel is an approach to traveling which focuses on experiencing a place by connecting with its history, people or culture.  The opportunities for this type of travel are as varied as the people and places where they are found, they provide insight into the lives of a community through how they work, play, or live (either now or in the past).  Examples from my own adventures include cutting peat in Ireland to dry and burn for fuel, staying in a castle on a ridge top above the Danube River in Germany, boating through a bioluminescent bay in Puerto Rico, and learning about Australia’s wine and food through a tour of the Central Market in Adelaide.

TravelDew invites leaders in experiential travel to share their stories, insights, and unique perspectives.  Through these interviews I hope to grow a community that honors the variety of our industry while simultaneously creating the opportunity to learn from each other.

If you are interested in being an early contributor to this community, I invite you to visit the interview page to learn more.  I look forward to hearing from you.

 

What Fuels Your Passion For Travel?

What Fuels Your Passion For Travel?

The Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) has released a new report, “North American Adventure Travelers: Seeking Personal Growth, New Destinations and Immersive Culture,” which offers insight into how adventure traveler preferences for activities and destinations have changed in the past decade. The report, sponsored by ATTA in collaboration with Outside magazine, shares the results of original survey research conducted by Paige P. Viren, Ph.D., and Alison K. Murray, Ph.D., of East Carolina University. Fielding a survey first used in 2006, the pair surveyed 8,000 Outside magazine subscribers for the research.

Hiking near Heather Mountain Lodge in the Canadian Rockies.
Hiking near Heather Mountain Lodge in the Canadian Rockies.

Activities Favored by Adventure Travelers

Topping the list of activities popular with adventure travelers today and projected into the near future is hiking with 92 percent of respondents reporting they have participated in this activity and 52 percent indicating they plan to in the future. Hiking is also the activity adventure travelers say they participate in the most frequently.

Following hiking, the activities cited most often by adventure travelers for future trips include visiting friends or family, stand-up paddleboarding, visiting historical sites, getting to know the locals, and cultural activities. In terms of activity frequency, the activities adventure travelers engage in most often after hiking are visiting friends or family, camping, road cycling, and skiing/snowboarding.

When asked what activities they feel most belong in the “adventure travel” category, the top ten activities respondents noted were hiking, backpacking, trekking, kayaking, rafting, climbing, mountain biking, scuba diving, caving, and camping. This marks a shift from 10 years ago, when the top activity identified with adventure travel was mountain or rock climbing. Another notable shift is found with respect to canoeing: Though canoeing ranked among the top five activities associated with adventure travel in 2006, in 2016 it ranked number 11.

New Zealand Sea Kayaking with Mark Hutson
Sea kayaking along the coast of New Zealand.

Adventure Destinations Then and Now

North American adventurers’ dreams of where they would like to travel appear to be expanding. Although North America unsurprisingly remains the most visited region for this group of travelers, it also topped their wish lists in 2007. In 2016, however, the region most respondents say they are planning to visit is New Zealand.

Following New Zealand, adventure travelers say the regions they are planning to visit are Australia, South America, South Pacific, Western Europe, Central America, North America, Central Europe, the Caribbean, and Africa. The appearance of South America near the top of the list marks a shift from 2007: Though it ranked number seven among regions people hoped to visit in 2007, ten years later it moved up to number three with more than half of respondents — 54 percent — saying they plan to visit.

Similarly, Central Europe is a new region to appear in the top 10 with 44 percent of respondents in 2016 indicating they plan to visit the region. In 2007, Central Europe ranked number 13 on the list with only 31 percent of respondents saying they were planning to visit the area.

Adventure Technical Report 2017
From page 18 of the Adventure Technical Report 2017

The Adventure Personality

Respondents were asked to select adjectives to describe how they see themselves in everyday life and to describe their personal interests and feelings about travel. The profile emerging from these results reveals adventure travelers see themselves as kind, efficient, organized, and imaginative. They enjoy working on new ideas and consider themselves to be intellectual.

Additionally, they are interested in the traditions of indigenous cultural communities. They work hard to keep their bodies healthy. They are moderately altruistic and sometimes give to others, and when they travel, they seek out new experiences and enriching knowledge. Adventure travelers do not see themselves as keenly interested in competition or shopping; in fact, the phrases “winning is extremely important” and “acquiring valuable products is important to me” ranked the lowest.

The research sample was stratified for gender, and responses were weighted to achieve a balanced response from men and women. Learn more about how adventure travelers, and the industry they are propelling, is evolving when you download the full report, available here. It is free for ATTA members, others may purchase a download.

Rishabh Jain – Founder of Questerra

Rishabn Jain - Founder of Questerra

Rishabh Jain is building an edu-tourism platform to enable high impact mentored experiential learning and strong networking across a cohort of motivated domain specific individuals. Serving universities, professionals, students, and travelers alike.

A pioneering and innovative platform, Questerra seeks to bridge the gap between the need for, and supply of, culturally aware professionals in today’s society. With the advent of today’s geo-political issues, a shrinking world, and global market places, it’s imperative to have cross cultural knowledge on issues related to your industry. Questerra focuses on in-depth and well researched tour itineraries, capable and knowledgeable tour mentors (from the same industry distinguished professional), and high impact networking among other aspects to create a tour that is a mix of work and play. Questerras’ tours are designed to instigate curiosity, feeding it with inspiration and quenching it with sheer passion.


The Ellora Caves complex
The Ellora Caves complex is a UNESCO world Heritage site and is a must visit for anyone interested in Indian history and architecture.

How do the experiences you offer at Questerra give people a unique perspective on the history, people or culture of India?

A Questerra itinerary showcases the heterogeneity of India. Along with the customary stroll through iconic landmarks we bring to you untapped India. We make our travelers experience India like a local, offering a range of unique experiences to give you the feel of India. Travelers can visit the bustling colorful fairs, a chance to dance to the tune of Indian sounds and satiate your taste buds as you dig into the all so spicy Indian delicacies. We invite travelers to come and experience India in its true sense. A journey becomes amazing journey with the right people, Hence Questerra prides in handpicking cohorts and giving them mentored travel plans.

How have the tours that you offer evolved since their inception and what do you expect for the future of Questerra?

Questerra is an educational travel company. Our itineraries are spun around a certain profession/passion. During our inception we had started only with a historical itinerary   (Rumbling Ruins) and an architecture itinerary (Building Blocks). To offer our travelers a variety to pick from we are going to begin the fashion tour (Runway to Ramps) and the music & dance tour (Melody and Movements).

What is one detail of an experience you provide that may go unnoticed by guests, but which you feel is important?

The Questerra journey will take you through the time piece of India. From agrarian to Modern India we wish to make our travelers experience it all. Seek peace in its pastoral sides and match the pace in its thriving cities.

Cankamana (Cloister Walk)
Lord Buddha spent the third week here walking up and down in meditation. On the platform lotuses indicate the places where the lords feet rested while walking. Photo: @SamayaSahoo

What do you wish every guest knew as they consider participating in a Questerra curated tour?

Travelers may fail to realize we give them a chance to forge friendships with people from  every corner of the world. Travelers may be apprehensive about travelling with 20 strangers. When the vacation has ended you will be surprised as you bid adieu with teary eyes. In the course of 20 days you make memories that you’re going to cherish for a lifetime. So hop on! You might just meet your best buddy. Also they would rather be prepared for some serious education, learning, inspiration and some pretty engaging bonhomie in our chilled out evening.

What is one unexpected piece of clothing or equipment guests should have to maximize their enjoyment of the experiences you offer?

I will recommend all the guests to carry with them a journal. Traveling to India one experiences a multitude of emotions. You will want to capture all those instances! The stories which left tingles of excitement running down your spine, or that experience which gave you an adrenaline rush. So pen it all down. Record everything that transpired during your tour. It is an essential for all you know etched between the scribbled words as you relive all those wondrous experiences you might seek the much needed inspiration to stand after a pit fall. The selfies will make you smile, the picturesque landscape stills will fill you with nostalgia but words are like pearls of wisdom.

What is one travel trend that really excites you?

Cultural Tourism is a travel trend that entices me. As you travel to that exotic destination you find yourself caught up in another world. Why not go skin deep? Dwell deep, drink it all in and take everything the place has to offer you. Locales have more affinity towards tourists who express interest to know more. With pride they showcase the marvels of their country. Learning about different cultures will enrich your reservoir of knowledge. Hence I go by the popular saying “When in Rome do as the Romans do.”

Questerra - Belur and Halebidu
The temples of Belur and Halebid are best known for their south Indian architecture. The temples were built by renowned architect Jakkanna Acharya (Amarashilpi Jakanaacharya) and are carved with scripts of Hindu mythology.

What is one insider’s tip to getting the most out of an experiential travel vacation?

To enjoy your experiential travel getaway neatly fold away the map, stash away the guide book, rip apart your to do list and get rid of that crammed schedule for good. Hop out of the bus sit in that cozy little café and observe the surrounding as you sip on that latte, stroll around the streets and play games with the cherry- cheeked kids or animatedly chat with the affectionate lady who looks like everyone’s grandmother. The twinkle in her eyes is priceless! Basically break away from the monotony and schedule and do anything that makes you happy.

What is one strategy that has helped your business to grow?

To make our name leave a ring in the air we have put together numerous blogs. Today it’s a bloggers world. We post these blogs on all social media handles to educate our target audience about the services we offer them. We also encourage our travelers to write and mention us in relevant social media handles.This strategy has proved to be efficient for us.

What is one personal habit that has helped you to be successful?

Each time I venture out to try something new I am crippled by fear. One of the biggest fears I’ve had is to die with the best of me, still being inside of me. It is in these times of fear that the best of me comes out of me. In my experience of being a serial entrepreneur, I’ve faced multiple such fearful moments, I try to pen down these fears and find various analytical reasoning to put these fears to rest, i end up with my answers and look to the future.

Please share one instance where a guest had a moving or emotional reaction to the experience you provided to them.

One of our travelers was under the impression that they had reached a dead end in life. He had recently quit a job which consumed too much time and failed to provide satisfaction. Having always wanted to pursue a career in writing he gained the much needed inspiration as he undertook our History Tour (Rumbling Ruins). The stories unraveled inspired him to start penning down his emotions and he is working as a freelance content writer. If we can inspire one person to hear their inner voice our job is done.

Connect:

www.questerra.co
Questerra on Facebook: facebook.com/questerra
Questerra on Instagram: instagram.com/questerra.co
Questerra on Twitter: www.twitter.com/questerra_co

Amy Merrill – Cofounder & Chief Impact Officer at Journey

Amy Merrill - Cofounder & Chief Impact Officer at Journey

Amy Merrill has spent the past decade in social impact: helping 90-year-old jazz musicians survive in the modern music economy, elevating a survivor/activist rescuing thousands of sex slaves in Cambodia, and scaling a crowdfunding platform that raised $4m for projects benefiting 200,000 people around the world. Amy is cofounder and Chief Impact Officer of Journey: a public benefit corp creating impact-driven travel experiences that transform both the communities they visit and the travelers they engage.


Journey - home building service project
To date, Journey has led 17 trips, funded and built 130+ homes, schools, and skate parks, and taken more than 450 people to Latin America to help build, learn and connect.

How do the experiences you offer at Journey give guests a unique perspective on the history, people or culture of the places you travel?

Our trips are all impact-driven, and the social projects we dive into put us side by side with families and members of the local community. Often, it’s in some of the most economically challenged regions of a city otherwise known for tourism (Cartagena, for example). This gives our travelers a wildly different perspective of a culture or destination, one infused with with local food and music and rich with the history of the particular local region and its complex challenges. It also gives the chance to form real human connections with local families, so travelers leave with new friends, and not just their fellow travelers.

How have the experiences that you offer evolved since their inception?

We started out by building 100+ homes on Journeys with a two-day build and three days of integration (with partner techo.org). From there, we expanded our impact work to school renovations, skate parks, refugee relief work, women’s entrepreneurial collectives, environmental action, and soon clean water.

What is one detail of an experience you provide that may go unnoticed by guests, but which you feel is important?

We intentionally start the integration portion of the trip with an open morning and physical activity—yoga, surf, hikes. This is to get the traveler back into their body and encourage physical release after what can be an emotionally (and physically) challenging build experience. Before we process in other ways (through conversation, workshops and talks, meditation) we encourage regrounding and reconnecting with your body. Travelers may not know this is intentional, and may think it’s just because we’re in a cool surf spot.

Journey - Travel With Purpose
Journey is a public benefit corp creating impact-driven travel experiences that transform both the communities they visit and the travelers they engage.

What do you wish every guest knew as they consider participating in a trip with Journey?

We go to serve the world, not save the world. My Experience Director Ansa shared this quote with me recently, and it represents how we think about the balance of these trips and the opportunity to do the work: it’s an entry point, and opportunity to show up in service and share it with others, then listen to the questions that arise for you and things you notice about yourself along the way. We tackle complex issues with our work, and there is no quick fix or easy answer: but we show up, and it makes a deep impression on the families and children who realize that they are not forgotten and there is a collective and conscious effort to include them in progress, as well as on our Journeyers who see the world through a slightly new frame of teamwork in humanity. In our experience, having the right expectations going into the week makes a world of a difference.

What is one unexpected piece of clothing or equipment guests should have to maximize their enjoyment of the experiences you offer?

Good question! Two thoughts: if there’s one small costume or accessory that makes the traveler feel extra beautiful or superhuman, this comes in handy at late-night campfires or spontaneous dance parties. And I’ve had a lot of fun bringing flash tats (metallic tattoos) to put on kids in the communities—with their parents’ permission of course. On a practical level, powdered green juice and supplements are nice to have after days of beans & rice.

What is one travel trend that really excites you?

Service! And learning trips. Everyone’s getting out there and doing something. The days of all-inclusive beach resorts where you come home with only a sunburn and a hangover to prove for it are over.

Journey - Travel With Purpose
All journeys are split into two parts, the first immersive impact work and the second cultural immersion. Upcoming 2018 Journeys include trips to Mexico, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua.

How do the work project and cultural immersion components of your trips combine to be more than the sum of the parts?

I’m not sure I can describe it here—that’s our secret sauce. 😉 Simply put, the days of impact work open people up, and the immersion and integration connects them to one another and themselves, on an arc of an experience that allows for a range of emotions, reflection and examination, and new friendships.

What is one insider’s tip to getting the most out of an experiential travel vacation?

Be present. Obvious I know, but it can be hard in an age of cell phones and infinite options to not be constantly thinking, what’s next? Am I hitting all the “best” spots in this town? And have I represented myself in every powerful moment to my friends on social? Immersive means: put the phone down, listen to the locals and what they’re sharing with you, forget what you’re doing later, and look up.

What is one personal habit that has helped you to be successful?

Being a good listener.

Please share one instance where a guest had a moving or emotional reaction to the experience you provided to them.

There’s honestly been so many. I had a stern, possibly ex-military traveler come on a Journey last year, and for the first day or so, I wasn’t sure if he and his wife were going to connect to the experience. They hadn’t stayed in a hostel for decades, they were used to controlling all parts of their vacations and not to being in groups. They spent two days on a Guatemalan build site filled with kids and teens, digging holes for foundation posts on their stomachs and erecting walls in the hot sun. After the final key ceremony, when the roof was up and the family entered their new home for the first time, he came up to me and told me it was one of the most powerful experiences of his life. He called it not life-changing but life-expanding; he’d never expected to connect with the locals, but a 17-year old Guatemalan teen and he had bonded over their shared love of the band Fallout Boy. That moment had changed everything, and for just a flash, he and the boy were the same.

Connect:

wejourney.co
Journey on Instagram: instagram.com/wejourney
Journey on Facebook: facebook.com/journeytojourney

Kinzd RFID-Blocking Wallet

Kinzd RFID-Blocking Wallet

Some credit cards and drivers licenses come with embedded radio frequency identification (RFID) chips. Demonstrations have shown that hackers with handheld RFID readers can skim card information from as much as a few feet away, meaning that your credit card or drivers licence information could be vulnerable. While you could protect private info by wrapping your cards in aluminum foil, we suggest a stylish RFID-blocking wallet like the Crazy Horse Men’s Slim Bifold Wallet below from Kinzd.

Kinzd was started in Hong Kong and is named after the founders dog, it’s true! Since launching with a single (slim wallet) product over 5 years ago, they have delivered over 2.5 million wallets to 95 different countries and have diversified their product line to include items like belts and cosmetic bags.

Product Details

Mens Slim Bifold Leather Front Pocket Wallet

  • Color: khaki (seems darker than khaki to me, but that is what they call it)
  • Material: leather (they call it “Crazy Horse” leather, it seems to be thicker and a little rougher than the Napa leather they use in other products)
  • Dimensions: 4.65″ x 3.10″ x 0.47″ (11.6cm x 7.5cm x 1.0cm)
  • 6 credit card slots
  • Interior spring metal money clip (it is the color of brass but I am pretty sure it is colored steel, it seems very durable though)
  • RFID-blocking technology

Pros & Cons

The Men’s slim bifold leather wallet is very high quality, the leather and craftsmanship are top rate. I really like the look, feel, and character of the Crazy Horse leather, but those of you who are more refined might prefer the softer and glossier Napa leather that Kinzd uses in many of their other wallets. The functionality is very good, it carries just what I need and the spring loaded money clip works well.

The idea of stopping thieves from obtaining personal information is valid, and if you can find a wallet that meets all of your other needs then the addition of RFID blocking is a nice bonus, however, it should not be the reason you buy this wallet. RFID-based contactless payment systems have fallen out of favor among U.S. credit card companies. The focus instead has been to implement the European-style chip-and-PIN system known as EMV, which uses different technology and is less vulnerable to remote skimming. (It is true that EMV cards come with their own security risks, but again, an RFID-blocking wallet won’t help you with those.)

Bottom Line

This is a great wallet, it certainly will not replace a neck pouch or money belt when traveling, but it could nicely supplement one of those and it is perfect for everyday use. As noted above, the RFID protection is less important than you might think, but it certainly does not hurt to have. Based on the quality of the materials and workmanship of this wallet, I wouldn’t hesitate to purchase any product from Kinzd. The cost is $17.99 and it is available on Amazon Prime, so you can save on shipping. Plus you can use the coupon code KINOFF20 and save 20% at either Amazon or Kinzd.com.

Pro Tip

These wallets are designed to shield the contactless credit cards, debit cards, and drivers licenses that operate at 13.56 MHz and above. Generally Only the new 13.56 MHz contactless cards contain sensitive personal data, but it is important to note that they do not shield non-smart cards or older low frequency 125 kHz proximity cards.

Some, but not all, of the products reviewed are provided either free or at a discount.  All reviews contain our honest views and opinions.

Javier García Colomo – Owner & Guide at Cooltourspain

Javier García Colomo - Owner & Guide at Cooltourspain

Javier Garcia wears many hats and stays very busy. He is the owner and local guide for Cooltourspain which offers street art and graffiti tours in Madrid. In addition, Garcia is the operations manager at one of the most important sustainable tourism companies in Madrid. Javier is also a backpacker who has fulfilled his dream of working at what he considers his hobby: painting. He got “kidnapped” by a graffiti can at the age of 12 and since then he knew his life was going to be closely related to the street art industry.

Javier García Colomo – Owner & Guide at Cooltourspain
Javier García Colomo – Owner & Guide at Cooltourspain

In addition to traveling to 29 countries on all continents, Mr. Garcia also speaks fluent English, conversational French, and beginner Swedish and Moroccan Arabic. This makes him well suited for relating to, and communicating with, travelers from all over the world. Javier, 29, added “90-95% of my guests come from different countries around the globe and English is the most frequent language at the tours.”

Garcia lived for a period in the United States where his work as a bilingual teacher in Odessa, Texas and Denver, Colorado gave him the opportunity to travel all around the country. He then returned to Spain to create a brand which combines unique tours with the culture of his community. His goal is to show guests Madrid in a different way, letting people experience it at the local community level, not from the perspective of a tourist.


Street art in Madrid by Cooltourspain
Street art in Madrid by Cooltourspain

How do the experiences you offer give guests a unique perspective on history, people or culture of Madrid?

Readers might have heard that there are some cities in Spain where locals are not welcoming visitors. Did you know that overpopulated experiences are one of the reasons why people are reading this type of articles in the news? Consequently, I thought about giving a solution to this problem.

I now run daily street art tours in Madrid where people can explore the city with a local perspective, avoiding the popular and traditional spots where the majority of tourists go.  I explain the history of street art & graffiti and how this cultural movement started during the 80’s in the capital of Spain through a guided visit of Lavapiés, Embajadores, and La Latina neighborhoods. We visit the work of local artists and support the community by learning about the techniques that those freelancers use while painting and decorating facades and metal shutters.

How have the experiences that you offer evolved since their inception?

The first product I launched was called street art & history tour. There was an explanation of Madrid’s history followed by a street art walk. This experience was offered for free, based on tips, and groups of 20 to 40 people joined the tours I scheduled during the weekends. The majority of the participants were expats working in Spain as teachers or au-pairs.

In order to offer a better service, I passed on a survey to the attendees. My surprise was that the majority of the people suggested to forget about the history and talk more about the street art & graffiti in Madrid.

I heard and proceeded. After people’s submissions, I created the first street art tour in Madrid run in different languages. I now charged for the services and all of the Facebook reviews received are 5 out of 5. 90-95% of my guests come from different countries, looking for an alternative and exclusive experience in Madrid.

Street art in Malasaña
Street art in Malasaña

What is one detail of an experience you provide that may go unnoticed by guests, but which you feel is important?

Being involved in the community requires time. It is not only a matter of getting to know the artists personally, but also checking hundreds of graffiti Instagram accounts on a daily basis. People are fascinated about my knowledge of the graffiti industry but what they don’t usually notice is that I spend hours and hours surfing the net for new content.

What do you wish every guest knew as they consider participating in the experiences you offer?

The street art community is huge! Artists, photographers, journalists… I wish all my guests had created a paste-up, stencil or graffiti themselves prior to their arrival. It would create such a huge impact as they would observe the artwork with a different point of view, trying to observe those creations as if they were theirs.

What is one travel trend that really excites you?

Meeting locals has turned into a travel trend for me. In addition to offering my tours through websites such as Get Your Guide and Viator, I also participate in street art tours all around the globe. Being introduced to a city through its underground locations by a local graffiti artists might be one of the most exciting things you can participate in when traveling.

Street art in Madrid, Embajadores
Street art in Madrid, Embajadores

What sets Cooltourspain apart from other, similar, organizations?

There are many organizations in Madrid aimed at the tourism industry but not a single one which offered street art and graffiti tours. Consequently, I consider that I am developing a sustainable way to sight-see my city. Also, there is a cultural project in Madrid which curates four street art festivals in Madrid. They offer street art guided visits from time to time but they only offer them in Spanish language.

What is one insiders tip to getting the most out of an experiential travel vacation?

Participating in volunteer workshops might be one of the most rewarding experiences that you can take a look at. Getting involved within the local community will give you a unique insight to how people live in the city you are visiting, what are their needs and how you could be more involved in it. You will also create such an impact by spending some hours of work aimed to help others: children, people at risk …

What is one strategy that has helped your business to grow?

SEO, both onsite and offsite. Don’t know what SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is? Then I would suggest you to check forobeta.com, one of the most important websites for web developers. This strategy [SEO] might be expensive if you don’t have the knowledge to do it yourself but it will position your brand in Google’s top list within a matter of 6 months. It just requires time that people find yourself when looking for the keyword your business is set in.

Okudart on Calle Embajadores
Okudart on Calle Embajadores

What is one personal habit that has helped you to be successful?

Posting daily feeds in different social media channels such as Facebook or Instagram has turned into a daily routine for me. Becoming successful in the online world can only be achieved in two ways: creating relevant content about the street art in Madrid on my website and sharing information with others about the latest trends in this cultural movement.

Please share one instance where a guest had a moving or emotional reaction to the experience you provided to them.

The second most active participants in my tours are people from Israel. Tourists from Tel Aviv frequently visit Madrid and I once received the following review after a visit:

“I came to Madrid many times because I love your city but it was not until the moment I participated in your experience that I truly discovered the underground parts of the city. A unique experience that I will never forget.”

I love my job, and I love it even more when receiving statements like this one.

Connect

www.cooltourspain.com
Javier’s email: javier@cooltourspain.com
Cooltourspain on Facebook: www.facebook.com/cooltourspain
Cooltourspain on Instagram: www.instagram.com/cooltourspain

VIM & VIGR Compression Socks

VIM&VIGR Compression Legwear

According to a recent British study, “all forms of transport involving a journey of 4+ hours led to an increased risk of blood clots forming in the veins of the legs.” Compression socks for travel are a simple way to prevent swelling in the legs, as well as blood clots and other health complications. The benefits are clear, but which compression socks should you choose?

VIM & VIGR is a Montana based company that saw a market opportunity to introduce stylish, high quality compression socks, and they jumped at it. Since 2013 they have partnered with vascular surgeons and vein clinics to develop compression legwear that is scientifically designed to support your legs all day, every day, no matter your activity.

Product Details

We tested the Men’s Straight-up Argyle which includes high-grade wool, other socks are primarily nylon or cotton. All VIM & VIGR socks offer either moderate compression (15-20 mmHg) or high compression (20-30 mmHg), most people consider moderate the ideal compression level used for those traveling long distances. Other features include:

  • Light cushioned sole
  • Graduated compression from ankle to calf
  • Contoured leg and heel for a superior fit
  • Flexible toe pocket for extra comfort
  • Spandex throughout the sock
  • Compression level: 15-20 mmHg
  • Material: 40% Wool, 45% Nylon, 15% Spandex (200-needle count)

Pros & Cons

Every year there are more and more options for travel compression socks, but VIM & VIGR is still unique in the marketplace for a number of reasons. First, unlike many of their competitors, they do not use uni-sex sizing and they don’t have just a couple of sizes. Socks are gender specific and come in four sizes (small, medium, large, and wide calf) to allow for a much better fit than some brands provide.

The variety of fabric options is also unique, you can choose from nylon, moisture-wick nylon, cotton, or wool. A survey of popular brands shows that a nylon/cotton blend is by far the most common fabric for travel compression socks, check out the Pro Tip below to see why we were excited to see a wool option from VIM & VIGR. The wide variety of patterns is nice for the fashion conscious among us, it is no surprise that this is particularly true in the women’s socks.

While VIM & VIGR offers moderate and firm compression options, those seeking mild compression (8-15 mmHg) will need to look elsewhere. Although, I suspect most good knee socks would offer mild compression. With price points ranging from about $25 to $40, this is certainly a premium product. But I must say, I own high-end socks from companies like Smartwool, Darn Tough, and Icebreaker, and these seem to be every bit as good.

Bottom Line

As someone who is new to the world of compression socks, I had the opportunity to experience wearing them for a long day along with the chance to evaluate the workmanship and materials of the VIM & VIGR socks.

While I defer to the medical professionals in regard to the determination that compression socks improve circulation and alleviate aching and swelling and prevent and reduce spider veins, varicose veins, and DVT, I can say that they definitely improve comfort on long travel days. These socks (with their advanced Gradient Pressure™ knitting technology) are extremely well made and very comfortable, I do not think you will be disappointed if you pick up a pair for your next big trip.

Pro Tip

Always choose wool socks for travel, here’s why:

  1. Moisture wicking: wool fibers are both hydrophobic (repels water) and hygroscopic, which is a fancy way of saying that it can absorb or give off moisture. In fact, wool fibers can absorb up to 1/3 of their own weight in moisture before feeling “wet”.
  2. Low-maintenance: wool is naturally anti-bacterial, the structure and chemical properties of wool create a horrible environment for microorganisms, which also means it is naturally odor-resistant. Because most body odor is actually caused by bacterial waste products, the naturally anti-bacterial products prevent this odor from building in the first place. This may sound gross, but wool socks don’t necessarily need to be washed after each wearing. If they are left to air out, or spot cleaned, they can be worn a few times before being washed.

Some, but not all, of the products reviewed are provided either free or at a discount.  All reviews contain our honest views and opinions.

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